Joseph Toscano and Beth Matthews are running as Grouped Independents, which is to say, they don’t have an official political party, but they do have a Group Voting Ticket, so you can vote for them above the line. Because they have no official party, they also have no party website, so this post will be based on what I can find out about them and their politics from Google. I will link to my sources as I go.
Their voting ticket suggests a decidedly left-leaning party, with Wikileaks, the Greens and the Animal Justice Party at the top of the ticket, followed by the Republican Party Australia (not to be confused with the US version, judging by where they have been appearing on preference lists), the Secular Party and HEMP. They get around to Labor at 26-31 on the ballot, the Liberals/Nationals at 67-70, and the bottom of the ticket is awarded to Palmer United, Family First, and last of all, Rise Up Australia.
(Incidentally, I’m noticing that most of these left-leaning parties are preferencing the Socialist Equality Party fairly low, and Toscano and Matthews are no exception. One has to wonder just exactly what the SEP has been doing…)
The first thing I find when I Google Toscano and Matthews together is a PDF from the Anarchist Media explaining the rules for nominating independent candidates, and letting people know that Toscano and Matthews want to nominate under the Eight-Pointed Star Movement. I am amused to note that they will be trolling for nominations at the Joan Baez concert, an Anarchist Bookfair, and at a Julian Assange interview. This should give you a pretty good notion of the demographic they are aiming for. They also quite specifically say that they do *not* want money, just nominations.
This of course begs the question of what is the Eight-Pointed Star Movement, and fortunately the Anarchist Media has a newsletter about that, too. It transpires that the Eight Pointed Star Movement ‘takes its inspiration from the Eureka rebels’. And let me tell you, it really, really does. They say so quite frequently. The Eight Pointed Star Movement believes that “Human beings are born with inalienable rights and liberties no Government can legislate away or corporation take away. Ultimate political authority rests in the hands of the people…”
They want citizen-initiated referendums and the power to recall their political representatives between elections, which sounds like a recipe for chaos, or, dare I say it, anarchy (I do realise that anarchists and anarchy are not exactly the same thing, but sometimes a cheap shot must be taken, and when I am writing political posts before breakfast, that is the time). The Eight Pointed Star Movement believes in equality of ‘race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, age or role in society’ – which is a very broad sort of egalitarianism. Very nice. They acknowledge that indigenous Australians never ceded sovereignty, and want a treaty – there’s a nice line about ‘the 1992 Mabo High Court decision that recognised they had legal rights to land and sea has been drowned by bucket loads of Parliamentary extinguishment’. I’m not sure if extinguishment is a word, but I do like the rhetoric.
The Eight Pointed Star Movement believes that climate change is real and due to human activity, and that we need to make changes, but they do not state what these are. They are against domination of the world by corporate capitalism, because what good lefty anarchist is not? Oh, and they want to replace the states by “a Federation of 50 Regional Councils based on direct democratic principles who use the common wealth for the common good, not private profit”. I find myself wondering how that would work. We have 20 million people in Australia, or thereabouts, so this would be grouping Australians into lots of about 400,000. Current Federal electorates have, I think, about 30-40,000 people, so ten times that size, and I suppose there would be about ten of these in Greater Melbourne alone, but less than one for the entire Northern Territory… I can’t honestly picture this, and I’m not sure what the aim is, exactly, so I’ll move on. It could be a good idea or a bad one – it’s hard to tell.
(I’m finding myself very much reminded of the old-school Socialist Alliance at this point, but we will carry on.)
They would also like to add a 1% stock market turnover tax and a wealth tax, to increase funding for public health, public education, public services and public infrastructure. How is it that these people don’t like the SEP more? They really do sound quite socialist to me.
And here is a statement from Toscano and Matthews, the Joint Convenors of the Eight Pointed Star Movement, informing us that:
We are participating in the Federal Election… not because we think or seek to be elected to parliament, but because we believe elections provide an opportunity to raise issues that go beyond the two minutes of illusory power that occurs every time we vote and give a Parliamentary representative a signed blank cheque to make decisions for us for the next three years.
Now there’s a sentiment I can get behind. Though I personally think that if you are on the ballot you probably should be seeking to be elected to parliament…
Given that this is a statement of policies and principles signed by Toscano and Matthews, I’m mostly going to stop here. I haven’t had much luck finding out more about Matthews, but Toscano has an entire Wikipedia page for those who are more interested – he is billed as an anarchist, a medical practitioner and a broadcaster, and has been involved in movements to defend and extend medicare and in the Friends of OUR ABC movement, which are both fairly useful things. On the whole, these two look like a lefty group which is only slightly nuttier than I would tend to vote for, not quite veering into ‘please stop being on my side, you are embarrassing me’ territory. This makes me happy, because the Senate Ballot Paper so far has had a distinct lack of mildly nutty leftist parties, and way too many vaguely frightening right-wing parties, and it’s time to redress the balance!